House of Lukaya started out as a tiny table at the crossroads, amidst the in-betweeness of the suburbs, not quite city, not quite country, surrounded by trees and small homes. I was 8 or 9 and “telling fortunes”. Even then my business model was somewhat unique. The room I slept in for most of my childhood had an oak with a branch that tapped my window at night. The woods were the playground for my friends and me.

From there the spiral of life has taken me to Virginia Commonwealth University for a BFA in Sculpture. Soon after, I found myself the proprietor of another tiny table, this time in New York’s Union Square, where my penchant for using natural materials and whatever happened to be around for my art making began to merge with my increasing interests in the plant world.

My increasing awareness of the connection between what I put in my body and on my skin led me to begin making body care products for myself in 2001. While exploring the many perspectives on the subject, I found a book by Susun Weed. Her reasonings about the different traditions of medicine, and how they can work together rang true for me. From there I jumped at the chance to apprentice at her wild wise woman’s goat farm, in Upstate New York. I began a live-in apprenticeship with her in 2003. The weeks spent living immersed in holistic study, coupled with the following years of workshop attendance and correspondence have been irreplaceable. Back in the city, I continued working with the plants and began making the creations born of that experience available to the public.

I moved back to my hometown in 2005 to be closer to my mother and reassess the life I wanted to live. The city had been an excellent teacher, and yet the physical environment had worn out its welcome in my heart.

My first website, blakmagikwoman.com, named for my childhood interpretation of the famous song, opened for business; and soon after my return, I began attending local markets. I found a storefront located across the street from the 17th Street Farmer’s Market, the oldest market in the US and a former auction place for enslaved Africans. 

A few artisans from the market and I opened what became House of Lukaya the shop. I learned so much during those five wonderfully challenging years; we hosted community events including art openings, spa night, live music, and film screenings. I decided to ring in 2012 by closing the storefront to refocus online at houseoflukaya.com and to reengage with my original ideas of plants for the people. After an excellent home birth experience in 2013, I continue along the path now as a mother, excited to see what each day brings!

Then and Now.